Tech millionaire Steve Kirsch has gone from funder of covid trials to super-spreader of disinformation
And while Morris thinks all claims about vaccine safety need to be properly vetted, “Is it possible that there is another rare side effect of vaccines that we haven’t discovered yet?” Yeah, it’s possible, ”he told me – he also said that he regularly saw Kirsch manipulate evidence so that it seemed to back up claims that are, in reality, unfounded. In fact, he was unwittingly the source of one of Kirsch’s figures.
In September, Kirsch emailed Morris asking him to estimate the maximum number of vaccine deaths. “Who knows,” Morris replied. “But not 150K. And not zero.
Kirsch immediately forwarded the exchange to me and, I guess, to other reporters. “BOMBSHELL: Top Biostats Professor Admits We Have NO INDICATION # of people KILLED by COVID vaccines,” he wrote. “He thinks that # killed by vax could be between 0 and 150,000 dead.”
Those who know Kirsch say this is a typical tactic. He is adept at debate, quickly changing the premises of a conversation to put the other person in the background.
“He might not be a good scientist, but he’s smart,” says WVU’s Feinberg. “He’s very convincing. He might be a good snake oil salesman.
I experienced this myself when, on a call, we discussed several studies. Kirsch told me that “meta-analyzes are a higher standard of evidence than randomized controlled trials.” When I replied that meta-analyzes are only as good as the data they are based on, he said, “I would like to understand your source on this, because I cannot find a source that says a Phase 3 trial is more evidence than a meta-analysis.
“When you characterize me, you have to say that Steve Kirsch does not accept majority votes on the interpretation of the data. “
While combining the results of several well-designed trials may strengthen an argument or uncover unseen patterns in smaller samples, a meta-analysis is only the sum of its parts; any well done experiment is more useful than combining the results of several badly done experiments. However, at the time, his question upset me, and I stammered.
Kirsch’s most effective tactic, however, may simply be his will to outlast everyone. During our first conversation, which turned into an hour-long Zoom session, Kirsch paced the rooms of his cavernous home with his phone held at chest level, rarely looking at the camera. Thirty minutes after the scheduled hour ended, he dropped his phone into the cup holder of his Tesla so he could continue talking while he ran an errand.
“When you need to characterize me, you have to say that Steve Kirsch is wrong with majority votes on the interpretation of the data,” he told me when I asked him about his views on ivermectin, which he says is a miracle solution against covid. “If you want to find someone to argue with me for ten thousand dollars, or a thousand dollars, I’m happy to do so, just for your benefit.”
Finally, a listening press representative, David Satterfield, turned his microphone back on to suggest that we end our email conversation. After I finished the Zoom meeting, Satterfield called me to apologize for interrupting us. “I was just starting to get tired,” he said, before asking to speak unofficially.
A web of influence
None of this would really matter if Kirsch’s views on vaccinations were private or shared with a limited audience. But as Kirsch clashed with the experts he initially surrounded himself with, he grew closer and closer to those who share his perspective on vaccines, which in turn have provided a large following. and receptive to his claims about a fluvoxamine conspiracy.
His appearance on an episode of the DarkHorse podcast of anti-covid-vaccine and pro-ivermectin expert Bret Weinstein alongside Robert Malone, a major source of vaccine misinformation, introduced Kirsch to followers of the “intellectual dark web.” who have since adopted him as a confrere who speaks the truth. He has also made several videos and podcasts with Vladimir Zelenko, the conspiracy theorist doctor who convinced Trump to take hydroxychloroquine.
While YouTube has repeatedly deleted the full video for DarkHorse episode, various clips have been viewed over 4 million times and the full audio remains available on Spotify.